Help the Dolphin Sanctuary Greece

$220 of $30,000 goal

Raised by 3 people in 5 months

The world’s 1st permanent coastal sanctuary for  dolphins is opening in 2018, but we need your support to succeed!  Join us on this historic journey to make it a reality.  Rescued & retired dolphins from the entertainment industry will be able to  live out the rest of their lives in a semi-natural environment where they will have the freedom to finally display their innate behaviours. The sanctuary located off Lipsi Island in Greece will provide a permanent home for dolphins from dolphinaria in Europe. 

We welcome you to the campaign to support the Archipelagos Institute for Marine Conservation's dream  of creating  the Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary - the first of ten (10) Sea Sanctuaries in the world.  Your contribution to this campaign earns you a place on the team making a sanctuary a reality for rescued, rehabiltating and formerly captive marine animals.

Several dolphins waiting in pools after their zoo / dolphinarium closed with no better place to go. Sanctuaries exist for terrestrial animals but no such facility exists for dolphins, leaving those unsuitable for release back to the wild to live out their days in small, barren and concrete tanks. All around the world captive dolphins swim in circles in undersized tanks, spending their days performing for food. These animals belong in the wild, and yet 283 bottlenose dolphins are held captive in cramped conditions in Europe alone, unable to express their natural behaviours. As public awareness increases on how we treat animals & the negative issues of  keeping the dolphins in these small, unnatural facilities, pressure is building on facilities to end their shows leaving the dolphins no place to go.


~3,600 marine animals in captive facilities worldwide.
~10 sea sanctuaries being planned.

The  Aegean Marine Animal Sanctuary is in the final stages of approval and completion, and will be ready to accept the dolphins - possibly in only a few months from now - dependent on funding raised. 

From confinement in a concrete pool...TO THIS! 
Join this wave of a global transition to help us move the dolphins in public display to a more natural environment.

Read on to learn how you can help. Or, jump to the next page to DONATE now.

At the Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary the dolphins will have an opportunity to reconnect with their innate behaviour, such as learning to recognise and hunt live fish for food. They will never be required to beg or perform for food. This enclosed inlet of Lipsi Island will enable them to use echolocation skills and to feel the natural rhythms of the ocean. They will receive 24/7 expert veterinary care and attention from the sanctuary’s specialised staff. The sanctuary will also assist stranded dolphins, seals and seabirds and will offer rehabilitation facilities. Years of environmental surveys and logistical planning are coming to a head as the sanctuary is in its final stage of development. This sanctuary will serve as an archetype for the development of future sanctuaries.

The funds raised will support the sanctuary to open in 2018. The team is led by Anastasia Miliou, Scientific Director of Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation. 


In June 2017, at the World Whale Conference  hosted by the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA) in South Africa, the Scientific Director of the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation, Anastasia Miliou, presented on the 17 years of vital research and conservation of marine mammals of the ΝΕ Mediterranean,  and their progress undertaken for the creation of the Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary

The Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary, currently under final construction on the island of Lipsi in the Northern Dodecanese, Greece is an endeavor of international importance, as it is the first sanctuary of its kind in the world.

"It's time to stop talking about sea sanctuaries, and time to start creating them." ~ Anastasia Miliou

WHO WE ARE: After the presentation at the WCA's World Whale Conference, working groups composed of expert scientists and representatives from various organizations agreed the urgent need for Marine Life Refuges to be developed throughout the world, based on the standards currently being set in Greece. The international team of experts supporting the Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary   grew and was strengthened during this conference, with new members joining the endeavor. We have associated ourselves in a working group to support the sanctuary development under the banner of  Sanctuary Education Advisory Specialists (SEAS)

WHY WE ARE: Animal welfare is our first priority. We are on the leading edge of the global change in the lives of marine animals transitioning from captivity to sanctuary, and from illness or injury to rehabilitation and release (if possible).


Dolphin care and transport to the sanctuary including specialist team to monitor the health, safety, transport and transitioning of the dolphins from captivity to the Sanctuary

Acquiring the remaining  licenses and permissions to operate the sanctuary 

Construction of a  rehabilitation centre and veterinary unit 

Equipment for & outfitting of the sanctuary’s operational base and veterinary clinic

Installion of  a specialised safety boundary

While there are sea sanctuaries in various stages of development around the world, the Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary is almost ready to open. But we need you! 

Your donations are needed *immediately*; anticipated the opening in early 2018.

"Thank you for your generous donation. Your funds will go directly to help us prepare for the opening of the first sea sanctuary in the world.  I support and endorse this GoFundMe campaign and welcome you to the Team!"
~ Anastasia Miliou
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#Free gift for the first 100 donations of $15 or more. Best investment of 2018! Join the pod @ the 1st #dolphin #sanctuary #Greece!
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Frequently asked questions Part 4 , 2 of 2 Animal Management and Care
Q4.8: How will you ensure the health and welfare of the animals?

A: The Sanctuary will host a veterinary clinic with all the facilities and equipment necessary for health monitoring, first aid and caring for dolphins and other species including sonography, haematological analysis and a quarantine pool.
There will be a group of full-time staff living on site that will include specialised marine mammal veterinarians. All medical care before, during and after the rehabilitation will be provided as well as constant monitoring of the animals’ health status.
The staff will monitor constantly the animals’ physical condition and behaviour, adjusting when necessary the measures to promote health and welfare and reporting any unexpected changes or concerns. The environmental conditions will be maintained as much as possible stable in order to protect the health and welfare of the animals reducing the risk of stress and injury.
All the work will be in accordance with the international environmental, health and safety legislation and codes of practice for protected species.

Q4.9: How will a crisis or disaster be managed?

A: If there is a situation where the integrity of the dolphins’ safety is compromised, such as with the case of a hazardous material spill, the dolphins can be extracted from the bay and maintained on land in the quarantine pools.
In the event of an earthquake or another event where shore side facilities are affected, an emergency management protocol will be followed, which may include the transportation of the animals to another enclosure.

Q4.10: Could orca be placed in the Sanctuary?

A No. Although orcas (Orcinus orca) are usually present in the Straits of Gibraltar, they are considered occasional species encountered in the Mediterranean Sea. The natural characteristics of the Sanctuary bay of Lipsi island (depth, temperature, prey presence, etc.) make the habitat unsuitable for them.

Q4.11: Will there be other species in the facility?

A: To prevent disease transmission, other species like monk seals (Monachus monachus) and sea turtles will not be allowed in the same space with dolphins coming from dolphinaria. However, the Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary will operate as a rehabilitation centre for marine mammals, sea turtles and birds and it will provide assistance for them in different spaces, taking all the necessary precautionary measures to ensure a safe environment for all animals.

Q4.12: Will the Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary rescue animals and attend stranding events?

A: A 24-hour rescue team will be established to respond and rescue animals from stranding events. The Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation can count on the help of extensively experienced specialists in stranding response. All marine species in need of first aid or rehabilitation will undergo a medical examination, and will receive veterinary treatment as needed. If permanent care is necessary, the individual will remain in the Sanctuary in a designated long-term refuge bay, which will be separate from the resident dolphins.

Q4.13: How will you rehabilitate stranded animals?

A: Currently, there is no facility in the eastern Mediterranean Sea that can provide medical treatment for injured marine species, other than a few in-land facilities. Since the area is home to many populations of marine animal species, stranding events inevitably occur, creating a vital need for a veterinary facility to treat and rehabilitate seals, turtles, and dolphins when it is possible. Since the Sanctuary will be situated in a natural bay, it will reduce stress associated with the treatment and recovery process thus increasing the probability of a more successful release.


Q5.1: What can I do to assist?

A: We are at a critical stage of near-completion, and have dolphins urgently waiting for a Sanctuary facility. Your support is needed in order to complete the necessary infrastructure, as well as secure funds for the sustainable operation of the project over the coming decades. Your donation is urgently needed to fund items such as a specialised safety boundary at the entrance of the Sanctuary bay, government licenses, and all capital costs associated with such a long-awaited project. Startup funds needed: $600,000 and annual operating budget: $300,000.

Q5.2: Where can I donate to the project?

A: There are different fundraising platforms where you can make a financial contribution


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Frequently asked questions #4: ANIMAL MANAGEMENT AND CARE part 1 of 2
Q4.1: How will the dolphins be fed?
A: The Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary team will ensure that the dolphins get all the nutrients needed and will assist each individual according to its specific needs. The diet, as well as the nutritional condition of the animals, will be regularly reviewed by specialised nutritionists as well as veterinarians. The ideal situation expects that dolphins will learn to hunt live fish, which will be introduced to them. The live fish will be sourced from a local sustainable fish farm.
To achieve this, a rehabilitation protocol will be applied from the very beginning: first the dolphins will be fed by hand at the surface as they use from the original captive structure, then they will be encouraged to eat underwater gradually eliminating the surface interaction. First, with stunned fish, then with live fish only. Dolphins will have the opportunity to forage and feed by themselves at all times.
The process is gradual and may take some years for some animals whereas others may never succeed. Observation of the underwater behaviours with cameras and hydrophones and weight controls will help monitor their health status, which will be the top priority of the Sanctuary.

Q4.2: How will you prevent disease transmission?
A: There will be no direct contact between the resident and wild rescued animals. The Sanctuary will have two safety boundaries, creating a controlled zone where interactions will be prevented. More specifically, there will be a 10m minimum separation between boundaries to avoid transmission from breathing splashes. Decontamination and sterilisation of equipment and personal gear will prevent transmission between resident animals and those attended to from stranding events.
Each dolphin will have a full epidemiological check-up prior to arrival and will be placed in the quarantine area before introduction to the Sanctuary space.

Q4.3: Will animals be released into the wild?
A: Past case studies of dolphins have shown that it may be feasible to release wild-caught dolphins that were placed in a public display facility given that they were held captive for four years or less. Any time frame greater than this or for animals born in captivity may make it impossible for them to survive in the wild. Each individual’s records, abilities and social situation will be monitored in order to decide what’s best for its safety and welfare. The Sanctuary aims to provide life-term care to dolphins that are deemed unsuitable to be released into the wild.

Q4.4: What is the breeding policy?
A: The Sanctuary will operate under a strict non-breeding policy. Depending on the social structure of the group arriving at the Sanctuary, the breeding control will be done by maintaining single-sex populations, or by using contraception on females.

Q4.5: Will the animals be used for research purposes?
A: Research is not the aim of the Sanctuary. However, certain data and information could be collected and studied without direct contact with the animals, like behaviour changes and adaptation of the animals to the new environment. The veterinary records, cameras, hydrophones and viewing points will be used to collect the information.

Q4.6: Will the animals remain under stimulus control at the Sanctuary?
A: There will be efforts to minimise human contact, reducing it only to necessary health checks. However, depending on the individual’s needs, more interaction between dolphins and staff may be required for those being hand-fed or under chronic treatment. Dolphins will follow a gradual process of desensitisation to human contact.

Q4.7: How will the animals be transported?
A: Depending on the place of origin of the dolphins, they will be transported to the Sanctuary by plane, boat or road. An animal will not be transported if it is determined by the specialised veterinarians that it would not be safe. A specially designed dolphin stretcher will be suspended into a carrier that can hold water and has foam to support the dolphin's weight. The dolphin will be continually sprayed down to allow thermoregulation. Veterinarians and dolphin caregivers will attend to the dolphins during the transport ensuring first aid when necessary. The animals will undergo transport simulations prior to their actual transportation to the Sanctuary in order to minimise associated stress.


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Frequently asked questions Part 3: ENVIRONMENT

Q3.1: Has the environmental impact study been carried out?

A: An expert consultancy with years of experience in conducting environmental impact assessments (EIA) in protected areas of significant ecological importance has been hired in order to undertake the EIA for this project. They will also be conducting a range of other assessments in order to prepare the necessary documents for the licensing for operation of the Sanctuary.

Q3.2: How will the additional organic waste from the dolphins be managed?

A: The sea current runs in and out of the bay- and safety boundaries which maintain the dolphins within the area- will have wide enough specifications to ensure optimal flow. A solar-powered propeller-based pump will be installed in the bay to supplement the existing current. This will help move waste out of the bay to the edge of the island, where larger currents will disperse it, preventing build up. The pump has been designed ensuring minimal noise production. Additionally, Archipelagos Institute will work to increase the biomass of naturally occurring native marine detritivores (i.e. holothurians) that will accelerate the breakdown of organic matter.

Q3.3: How will a healthy ecosystem be maintained?

A: The marine ecosystem of the bay is a very diverse one, consisting of seagrass meadows that shelter numerous marine organisms. More than 30 fish, 30 invertebrates, and 1 sea turtle species have been recorded within the bay to date. In order to maintain a healthy ecosystem once the dolphins arrive, the Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary will work on selectively enriching the bay with certain native fish, invertebrate species and naturally occurring marine detritivores to manage organic waste. Additionally, there will be constant water quality testing undertaken. It still remains to be assessed whether the filtration of some form of bioload removal system is needed beyond the natural flow of the currents in the Sanctuary.
Moreover, the bay, where the Sanctuary is located, is a natural habitat for the Bottlenose dolphin species (Tursiops truncatus), where the animals can find the natural conditions in terms of stimuli essential for their psychological health and echolocation.


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Raised by 3 people in 5 months
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